Clear Creek Falls
December 04, 2003
North Clear Creek Falls is located in the upper drainage of the Rio Grande River in western Colorado. Originating from a gentle spring in a mountain meadow, the stream soon falls into a deep canyon. This water then drains into the dry San Luis Valley, 100 km (60 mile) to the east, where it's pumped from the ground for irrigation.
Waterfalls such as this occur when erosion undermines a relatively resistant "cap rock" layer. In this case, a lava flow has left a hard layer of igneous rock that forms the lip of this approximately 32 m (100 ft.) waterfall. The boulders at the bottom are remnants of the cap rock, which break the fall of the water. Water flow is highest in the late spring, after the snow melts in the high meadows.